Alan Milavetz remembers how his mother, “in typical Jewish-mother fashion,” always urged him to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer when he grew up. “She didn’t say doctor, debt relief agency or engineer,” recalled the personal injury lawyer.

For Milavetz and a number of lawyers across the country, a 2005 federal law requiring them to advertise as a debt relief agency — regardless of whether they offer sporadic or regular bankruptcy advice to clients — irritates like a pair of ill-fitting shoes.